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Digital Skills: Older People

Volume 660: debated on Thursday 23 May 2019

Three quarters of people who lack basic digital skills are over the age of 65, so we have launched a digital inclusion innovation fund specifically to help older people and people with disabilities. We are also tackling digital exclusion via the £15 million future digital inclusion programme, which since 2014 has helped more than 1 million adult learners to develop their basic digital skills.

We all know how important it is to have digital skills in the modern world. Will the Minister therefore join me in congratulating the South East local enterprise partnership on being awarded funding to set up a local digital skills partnership, and wish it well in its new task?

I certainly congratulate the South East LEP on gaining this initiative. We have now launched six local digital skills partnerships, and they will match provision to the very local needs of people, particularly in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

I hold regular discussions about digital inclusion with a group called Young At Heart in Cefn Cribwr in my constituency—a group of women who are, in the main, over the age of 80. One of their biggest complaints is being unable to make face-to-face appointments to see their doctor, and they also have complaints about the telephone services at doctors’ surgeries. What more support could the Minister provide to allow GPs to have funding to teach and upskill those women to be able to use those services?

I congratulate everyone behind Young At Heart in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency; it sounds like an excellent initiative. NHS Digital has the widening digital participation programme, which will enable people in the hon. Gentleman’s constituency and elsewhere to make better use of digital services, as well as the face-to-face appointments that will always be required.